Design is a place where designer knowledge meets client needs. The goal of commercial lighting design is to meet requirements of a client as well as the space.
A good designer discovers what their client wants and figures out how to achieve it. They make an effort to see a client’s point of view. Great lighting designers put the effort in to keep clients involved in the process. Trust between a client and designer is important, after all.
A design process works best when a client and the designer are able to communicate and be on the same page. Both have to be able to express the purpose of the design and work together on the best way to make that happen.
It is a two-way collaboration. The opinion of a designer and a client must both be considered along the way. A designer’s opinion must be taken into account, and the client must have confidence in their designer to be able to trust their opinion or input.
There are essentially three types of lighting clients:
- Lighting Illiterate
- A client may not know as much or anything about the topic of lighting but can quickly pick up on things if guided.
- Lighting Educated
- This type of client might ask more questions, but is generally informed about the lighting process. Usually quite involved and wants to make sure the design turns out as desired.
- Functional Client
- This client may be more concerned with functionally finishing a space. May see lighting as an extension of floors, walls, ceiling, etc., and just wants to get it done. May have little design familiarity or not as much interest in understanding why certain aspects are required to achieve a certain result.
How to Treat the Process:
- Remember it’s interactive. It unfolds as it goes.
- Flexible in the introduction
- Have a solid concept.
- Be willing to listen.
- Have it be practical in the development
- Collaborate with your client.
Things to Consider:
- Know your project. Once you get a brief, be prepared and get involved with the process. Understand what it is and what is needed.
- Listen to your client and observe them. Knowing your client prepares you to know what to expect.
- Let them express themselves and what they want. Don’t jump in with your ideas and visions for a space before a client has let you know about what they’re after.
- Make a list of project notes. Make a mental note or write it down on a phone note or notepad before and during a project and add as you go. You’ll also have things you can reference if you need to later.
- Engagement builds trust. Ask questions and be involved with the process. Leave room to expand, change, or improve.
- Design purpose
- Project type
- Project location
- People involved in the project
- Design theme
- Budget allocated
- Interest in long-term economics like sustainability
- Project period and expected date of completion
What Not to Do:
- Promise your client things. You’re setting yourself up for failure! Stay flexible.
- Don’t take on the ‘zero effect’. Pushing the limit may result in ‘zero’ getting accomplished.
- Don’t go for gimmicks. They’re catchy, but the catch is your client may get a bad first impression.
- Neglect the architect. They are the top person on any project, even above your client.
- Brainstorm before discussing purpose. Cement purpose, then work on vision.
How To Get It Right:
- Do your homework
- Have ideas; share them one at a time
- Create a plan with your client
- Always keep your client informed on everything
- Throw out new ideas if your client seems open to it
- Budget awareness
- Be accountable what you do well or errors that you make alike
- Have client go-ahead on everything before going ahead